The Road Keeps Changing: The Power in Combining the Study of History with the Practice of Mindfulness Meditation

I was walking up this long rural road, a road I walk or drive on almost daily. And as I looked to the distance ahead, let my mind rest mindfully in the view, I suddenly felt there were layers in this road or under it. Old roads. Unknowns. The road has two lanes now. Was it once only one lane? A path traveled by native Americans? A deer path?

 

What was this hill like in the past before this road was built? What is hidden? I stopped and stared into the distance, imagining what the road might cover. These trees on the side. They are now maybe forty feet high. In many places there is just one lone tree fronting a home. Were the trees that bordered this road once part of a vast forest of interconnected trees, huge monsters reaching up to the sky?

 

We think of our road, village, town, or city as being just this, just the way it is now. The same old thing. But we know this isn’t the only way to see it. Not the only way it has been seen, even by me. This road, for example, was recently repaved and widened. The relationship of me standing here, the car speeding too fast by me, that crow calling, the spongy moth floating down its line never existed before.

 

What does it mean to me, now, that just 39 years ago, the lines of cables lining the road for the internet weren’t here? There was no Facebook, TikTok, texting.

 

What does it mean that 77 years ago World War II ended? A hundred years ago was the roaring 20’s. About four hundred years ago, the first Europeans came to this area, which had been populated up to then by the Cayuga tribe of Native Americans. Before the Cayugas, there were more bears than people. Today, we’re shocked, but maybe secretly filled with joy, when a bear walks down our street or visits the food market. Back then, the bears were shocked to see one of us in the forest. So much change.

 

How is this past alive in this present? What does it mean that our lives can change so much and so continuously? So much pain. So much gain and loss.

 

History is the story of change. Dr. Theodore Christou said history is rooted in storytelling. The Greek root of ‘history’ is historia, which means inquiry, seeking knowledge. And ‘story’, histoire in French, is history  without the ‘hi’.  Both words refer to an account of events.

 

We use stories to organize and shape the moments and events of our lives into memories. How we shape those stories is how we shape ourselves, create an identity or personal history. And we then know ourselves through these stories. Likewise, a culture knows itself through its stories. This history is a collective memory. It shapes how we relate with others and shows us who we are….

 

**To read the whole post, please go to The Good Men Project.

 

Putting Out the Flames: A Frightening Letter to Awaken the Conscience of Senators

 

A reader of my blogs shared with me a frightening letter. He felt something must be done, or that he must do something. He wrote by hand, to two Senators, Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, and sent the correspondence to the Senator’s offices. He also sent copies to a few media outlets hoping to motivate thousands of similar letters. Making a phone call, he thought, was ok. But a handwritten one is so old school and personal.

 

Here is the letter:

Dear Senators Sinema and Manchin,

Please vote for the voting rights bills now in Congress. Donald Trump is supported by people who call themselves Nazis. They praise Adolf Hitler and glorify war. If Trump wins again he will declare himself dictator, ending democracy forever. We must assume this because they will kill people we love.  

Senators Manchin and Sinema, when they start killing Democrats and minorities, the Republicans will let you join their party. You and your loved ones will be safe. For the love of my family and millions of families worldwide, please pass the voting rights bills.

Thank you,

 

His letter certainly expresses the fear he is feeling, not only for himself and his family, but for all of us. He sent it to awaken the conscience of these Senators, so they’d finally help put out the flames that are burning this nation and our world ⎼ or so they’d at least stop fueling the fires with their opposition to crucial legislation.

 

There is no doubt our nation and world are on fire. We know this, or many of us do. I think secretly we all know this. It’s hard to miss the fires that burned forests and homes in much of the western part of our nation this year and the recent past. It’s hard to miss sidewalks and roads that melted this past summer, record droughts, record windstorms and tornadoes that struck just a few weeks ago. Unless maybe we think they will only happen to someone else. They happen to all of us, one way or another, one disaster or another.

 

It is hard to miss the hate that too often walks our streets, or even our schools and workplaces. People shot or attacked. For being Black, Brown, Asian, HGBTQ, Jewish, Muslim, Native American ⎼ or a woman. They attack women who just want a choice as to what happens with their own body, or who want healthcare and rights equal to men. In Texas, the GOP passed a bill that could lead to mob violence against women and those who support them….

 

*To read the whole article, please click on this link to The Good Men Project.